Top tips for cultivating resilience and reducing stress

Words by Soraya Shaw, Strategic Consultant for Wellbeing and Careers at NABS

Workplace and life stress can impact us all, and if not addressed, sadly in some cases can lead to poor mental health. However, we all have different tipping points, what may be stressful for one person – say giving a presentation, may for another person be something they really enjoy. So encouraging people to talk about how they are feeling and what they are experiencing does have a really positive impact on people and their quality of life.

Recent research from our Building Resilience to Pressure Masterclass identified some useful pointers which you can take back and apply in your life to help combat stress:

  1. When people experience what they perceive to be a stressful situation the brain reacts by creating the flight or fight experience by shutting down the thinking part of the brain and engaging the emotional networks. Taking a moment to name the emotion you are feeling helps the brain to refocus attention so that you can find a solution to the situation you are facing more cognitively.
  2. Be mindful of your own wellbeing by being kinder to yourself. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves during difficult day-to-day situations. Being aware of the negative talk that can be going on in your head and developing ways to quieten that voice will help you to believe in your abilities. So through practice, learn to stop questioning yourself and trust that you are doing the best that you can.
  3. We all assume that we are the only ones feeling pressure and stress, but this isn’t true. As well as finding support from others for yourself, how in turn can you support your colleagues and boss? Can you as a team share what symptoms you experience so that as a team you can be more aware of the feelings of those around you? Then if you do notice someone is finding a situation difficult you can find ways of talking about it and normalising stressful situations.
  4. One telling symptom of people who are feeling stressed and which could lead to depression and ill health, is that someone who is normally outgoing becomes distant and uncommunicative. The reason behind this is that when the brain is overloaded with stress it realises the hormone Cortisol which in small doses is good, but in large, sustained doses is very damaging. This impacts the sympathetic nervous system, shutting it down as the brain and body preserves energy for what it perceives to be a potential threat, therefore directing emotions inward to protect the individual. It is very important to help the individual to start to express how they are feeling and if they are struggling to do this, for them to be directed to professional help, remembering that it’s not just work that impacts people, but also what is happening at home in people’s personal lives.
  5. Other people’s moods are contagious. Have you noticed how when others around you are being positive and happy you feel the same way? It is very easy when we are feeling under pressure to emit those signals unconsciously to other people and before you know it this has had a ripple effect and others will pick up your mood. This is especially true if you are leading other people as they will be looking to you for how they should behave.
  6. Our brains love to create habitual thinking patterns as it means that it has to use less energy by defaulting to existing pathways. So the more preconceptions that you have about a situation, the greater likelihood that it will happen. Therefore you have a choice about approaching situations with either a positive or negative mindset. If you find yourself approaching situations with negative thinking, take a moment to flip that thinking to something more positive so that you begin to reinforce healthier thinking patterns, as in our brains the, ‘neurons that fire together, wire together’.

NABS is here to help improve and champion the wellbeing of everyone in advertising and media. If you need help with building your resilience, NABS can help. We run a Resilience Programme, specifically designed to build techniques for better resilience to life’s pressure and to promote good wellbeing, through Masterclasses on mindfulness and mental toughness. Our Advice Line team are on hand to talk you through any pressures you may be experiencing, at work or at home, and can offer emotional support or refer you to our cognitive behavioural therapy and stress coaching services. Our coaches can work with you in one-to-one sessions to help you find solutions for tackling stress and approaching life in a more positive, solutions-focused way. Visit our website or call us on 0800 707 6607 to see how we can help.


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